There Are No Strangers
The Circle Hostel
La Union, Philippines
A few weeks ago, when my friend Marcos mentioned that he and his friends Rai and Kookai were heading over to La Union for a few days and that they were going to stay at The Circle Hostel, I (almost) jumped at the chance to join them.
On NOT surfing in La Union
Our 3-day stay, while scored with offers for surf lessons, and further aided by visuals like below:
…involved no surfing at all. :P
Liquid Dumaguete v 2.0: My Advanced Open Water Diver Course
Having completed my Open Water Diver (OWD) Course at Liquid Dumaguete in Dauin just last October, I was more than eager to come back this month to take my Advanced Open Water Diver Course, revisit my diving “home base”, and most importantly, be part of Liquid Dumaguete’s Sunday Funday, a great initiative that the team began last December and will continue to do every first Sunday of the month.
Getting to Dauin
I’d been traveling through Iloilo and Bacolod the days before, and preferring land vs. air travel, I took a 6-hour bus ride from Bacolod to Dumaguete (I’d been on a 31-hour road trip before, so 6 hours is not a big deal), but given that I had only left Bacolod a little past 4pm, on account of my visit to Rapha Valley, this meant that I’d arrive at roughly 10:30. Upon my arrival at Dumaguete, it turned out that I’d have to wait for the 11:30 bus leaving Dumaguete for Dauin (since I arrived at a less than ideal time — it’s usually a worry-free 20-minute trip from Dumaguete to Dauin).
I cram myself into the bus departing for Dauin at 11:30pm, and get dropped off at the Petron station near Liquid, take a flashlight-guided 10-minute walk to the resort, and at around 12:00 midnight, feel grateful for arriving unscathed.
Again, by no means do I advise solo female travelers to do what I did at the time that I did it. Traveling solo at night isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do. But anyway.
Touchdown: Liquid Dumaguete
Iloilo - Bacolod - Dumaguete [Jan. 27 - Feb. 7]
An all-too-brief trip of Muni PH events, travel, culture, agriculture, and diving
Earlier in January, my friend Noreen Bautista of Jacinto & Lirio told me she was going home to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival, and I forget if it was she or I who brought up the idea of doing a Muni event in Iloilo.
So anyway, although the tickets I could book at this point were more expensive than I was accustomed to spending on local flights (I’m really cheap), I booked the flight anyway, thinking that I may or may not have this chance again, rationalizing that the difference of several hundred to a thousand pesos on the flights might not necessarily be saved by opting to do the event at a later date anyway. And off I went.
Check out my whirlwind trip through Western Visayas and Negros :)
Diving in Puerto Galera with Dive Instructor John Mateos Ong
Last Jan. 12-13, I managed to pull out just enough from what I have left in my savings (while ensuring I’d still have enough for my upcoming Iloilo-Bacolod-Dumaguete trip - I’m a super shoestring traveler, mind you) to join dive instructor John Mateos Ong’s students for a weekend of diving at Puerto Galera.
With Louie, Dive Instructor John, yours truly, and my age old friend Jane on the boat en route to Puerto Galera (photo c/o Michelle May Ong)
We arrived around 11, checked into El Galleon, had our lunch and looked forward to our dives at the renowned reefs of Puerto Galera.
After squirming into our wetsuits, prepping our weight belts, masks, booties, fins, BCDs (Buoyancy Control Device), regulators and tanks (with the help of the Asia Divers staff) we’d be off to our first two dives of the trip.
CRAFT COFFEE WORKSHOP (with The Manila Review)
A Homey, Creativity-inspiring Hangout for Coffee Connoisseurs, Nomad Managers & Friends :)
I first visited Craft Coffee Workshop last December 15, for the launch of The Manila Review, an independent publication that aims to promote critical thinking on today’s culture and issues, catapulted by Leloy Claudio and Mara Coson. Check it out here. Yes, December 15. Backlog, I know.
As a sucker for aesthetic (and gender neutral) rustic design and great ambiance, I instantly fell in love with the place without having sampled the coffee yet.
Feeling Like A Princess at Sonya’s Bed & Breakfast
(above photo features my bed at the Fennel cottage)
I spent the weekend before Christmas with my family at Sonya’s Bed & Breakfast, a tucked away section at Sonya’s Garden. :)
My brother and sister-in-law decided to gift us full body massages for my parents, and foot spa for all of us “kids”, including the brothers. My mom said that her massage was one of the best she’s had, and that says a lot because she’s quite particular about her massages. But the more notable part of this story is how obviously extremely uncomfortable (fearful, even) my dad was with the idea of getting a massage, so much so that he was offering that my brother take it instead. He refused, of course, forcing my dad to go through his ordeal. When we saw our dad again after our foot spa, he looked so relaxed and only had good things to say about the massage and was already planning our next stay at Sonya’s. :D
Honestly, I sometimes dread family vacations because well, it can be quite stressful traveling with one’s family, with one member wanting to do this, the other wanting to do that, and people just rubbing each other the wrong way - the way that families usually do. But for some reason, there was none of that on this trip, and it was one of the most pleasant family vacations I’ve been on. :)
When We Work Not For The Money
I’ve been somewhat amiss in my travel posts lately, and one might think that after a trip to exotic India, a traveling blogger who blogs about her travels (but does not necessarily call herself a “travel blogger”) might blog about it - ASAP. Alas, it has been almost a month now since I’ve come back, and I’ve yet to get around to writing about my whirlwind trip through Southern India (and side trip to Kuala Lumpur).
[Merdeka Square in KL, Malaysia]
However, ironically, November also happened to be the month wherein I became officially unemployed, and yet I feel that I’ve never been busier! I’ve been caught up with a lot of interesting new experiences, meeting new people and trying out new things like: